• Name: Shari Davis
• Age: 51
• Occupation: Nonprofit policy advisor
• Neighborhood in which you live: NOMA
• Own or rent: Own
• Marital status/kids: Married for 22 years; three kids in local public schools
• Obama or Romney: Obama
• Education: Where did you attend and what degrees do you have? USC, B.A., political science and public relations; Harvard University’s Kennedy School, master’s, public policy.
• Why are you running for City Council, what makes you qualified to lead, and what role do you see yourself playing on the dais if elected?
As a collaborative, innovative problem solver, I will add an important voice to our council. In working with residents in every neighborhood, I have learned how to protect our diverse community and vibrant economy and will use my community involvement, education and professional experience in economic development, homelessness, affordable housing, youth advocacy, environmental issues and municipal finance to do so. I want to ensure that Santa Monica remains a city with the resources to set bold policies that are modeled throughout the country.
• What are Santa Monica’s three major strengths and weaknesses? What will you do to ensure the strengths remain and the weaknesses contained?
Commitment to people of all walks of life through progressive policies.
Beautiful environment with our beaches and ocean.
Vision, willingness and ability to be innovative.
Small, limited geographic area.
High volume of cars passing through.
Drastic cuts in funding by the state.
Santa Monica’s reputation as a city with extraordinary civic involvement is the key to our ability to address problems and protect the character of our community. I’ll listen and be guided by the empowered, informed members of our commissions and community, and work locally and regionally to seek creative solutions.
• Homelessness continues to be a significant concern of many residents and business owners. How would you rate City Hall’s response over the last four years, what will you advocate for and does that mean more or less funding ?
I believe our city is going in the right direction, but we have more to do. I will use the knowledge I gained as chair of the highly regarded Covenant House California to help Santa Monica’s homeless get into permanent housing and find good jobs. I’ll push the VA to create housing for homeless vets, support OPCC’s comprehensive programs, and strengthen region-wide efforts.
• Where do you stand on the City Council’s decision to increase the campaign contribution limit from $250 to $325?
$325 because it makes it easier to communicate with voters.
• Will you sponsor a local law banning smoking within multi-family residential units, i.e. condos and apartments? If not, what would you support?
I would not go as far as banning smoking in people’s homes, out of respect for their privacy rights.
• With Los Angeles cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries, it is going to be harder for Santa Monica patients to get their medication. If elected, would you allow medical marijuana dispensaries to set up shop in Santa Monica?
• What policies will you support that will enable Santa Monica to deal with the increased competition for resources and the need to be sustainable, particularly when it comes to water and power consumption/generation?
The Sustainable City Plan provides an excellent framework to address resource and environmental issues. I support the 100 percent water self-sufficiency goal by 2020 by maximizing the use of recycled water in parks and other city facilities for landscape irrigation; pursuing infrastructure work needed to expand purple pipe and a water storage facility; a TCE treatment facility to increase access to water in the aquifer via Santa Monica’s wells, which could also enable expansion of recreational space at Stewart Park; water and energy conservation throughout the city. We must continue to advance green building practices, technology and jobs.
Run, ski, hike, paddleboard
• What are you reading?
“Brain Rules” by John Medina; loved “The Glass Castle” this summer.
• The loss of redevelopment agency funds dealt a serious blow to the City Council’s ambitious plans for the Civic Center, Samohi, and the park in front of City Hall, among other projects. If elected, what projects would you prioritize and how would you finance them?
I agree with the priorities the City Council set: continue the Civic Center park projects, the Pico Library, affordable housing support, signal synchronization and preparation for the EXPO Light Rail, while discontinuing the Civic Center Joint Use Project (CCJUP) and the Civic Auditorium for now. I support Measure ES, which will enable much of the CCJUP to move forward. I support public-private partnerships and possibly bonds to seismically upgrade the Civic Auditorium to prevent its permanent shutdown.
• City Hall already provides the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District with millions in exchange for access to campuses, mainly athletic fields. Do you believe this deal is good for the city, or should it be revisited and modified? If so, in what ways?
I strongly believe in the collaboration and support between City Hall and SMMUSD. As past co-chair of CEPS, I led the efforts for the $14 million in annual funding that the city provides the local public schools in return for access to school facilities. This strong, positive relationship results in safer, more stable communities and brighter futures for our students. Maintaining the agreements benefits everyone.
• If you could ride the Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier with three people in history, who would they be and what would you want to talk about?
Abraham Lincoln, Lucy Stone and John Muir. We’d talk about courage, what they think of the world today and how they persevered.
• Where do you stand on the Santa Monica Airport?
A comprehensive Airport Visioning Process is in progress, and I support protecting neighbors through efforts to reduce air and noise pollution, and increase safety and public uses around SMO. I’d like to see Santa Monica pioneering the changes needed to remove lead from aircraft fuel everywhere, not just in our community. The FAA has made it very clear that it will not allow the city to close Santa Monica Airport, and with the city facing serious budget deficits in the next four years, it does not seem fiscally prudent to me to expend taxpayer dollars on extensive legal fees to battle the FAA when they could be spent on other sustainability priorities. I believe we should begin master planning what would replace the airport in the future when closure is a more realistic possibility.
• Community benefits as part of development agreements: what is your definition of a benefit? When should the City Council demand benefits and to what degree? And should some be part of a checklist that developers can choose from, or should the council always have complete control in negotiations with developers?
Community-identified priority categories of benefits should be included in development agreements for projects wishing to exceed the baseline building heights: “creation of new affordable and workforce housing; participation in rigorous vehicle trip reduction measures, impact fees and shared parking programs; the creation of quality open spaces and green streets; historic preservation; facilities for child care and early education; facilities for youth and seniors as well as for arts and cultural events.” I believe in using creative, open-minded approaches, with staff, the Planning Commission, neighbors, and the broader community, to establish development agreements that adequately reflect appropriate types of benefits for the specific project.
• What is your definition of overdevelopment and what is your plan to prevent it?
Cities create general plans to provide a vision of what they want to be, and I believe no city wants to be overdeveloped, especially Santa Monica. To me, overdeveloped means too many cars, too many buildings and too many people. I believe our plan for creating a sustainable city solves this problem. My decisions as a council member will be guided by LUCE’s “Key Principles of Sustainable Planning.”
• The sputtering economy and the rise in pension contribution costs have forced some cities to file for bankruptcy. Santa Monica is doing better than most, but if nothing is done to trim costs, deficits will become reality. What’s your plan for controlling public employee pension costs?
We must find other ways to meet balanced budget goals besides devaluing public employees’ pension or health benefits. I would work collaboratively with the Santa Monica Police Officers’ Association, the Santa Monica Firefighters Association, Local 1109, and the Coalition of Santa Monica City Employees to explore strategies for reducing costs.
• How do you get across town during rush hour? Any tips or shortcuts?
I try not to. Cycle, carpool or Big Blue Bus.
• What should City Hall’s role be when it comes to the creation of affordable housing?
I support the affordable housing obligations defined in the Municipal Code and the goals outlined in the LUCE. Community Corporation is our best option for creating more affordable housing. I’ll actively work on statewide as well as local strategies (real property transfer tax, developer fees, bonds, revenue anticipation debt, development agreements, etc.) to preserve and enhance existing affordable housing.